Every aspect of life has becoming increasingly digital, and the world of real estate is no different. In the past, if real estate agents wanted to “stage” a property, they had to buy or rent furnishings, carpets, window treatments and accent pieces. Effectively staging a property cost significant time, money and energy. Now, thanks to advances in computer rendering, virtual staging has become an immediate, cost-effective way to digitally present your home at its best.
What is Digital Home Staging?
Since the advent of the Internet, agents have used the Web to showcase listings. But they were still forced to stage the rooms before photographing them for the online listing. In today’s deflated economy and lackluster housing market, traditional staging has become increasingly less practical. Digital staging offers a significantly lower price tag, along with numerous aesthetic benefits, and is welcomed by real estate professionals and home owners alike.
Digital staging is a direct result of advances in computerized rendering. It uses technology to insert furnishings and accessories into photographs of otherwise empty rooms. The process allows agents to digitally remove clutter in a garage, retouch discoloration on a kitchen wall, and open up a space by removing a wall.
The process is simple. A real estate agent sends images of a vacant home to a stager, who then renders in tables, lamps, rugs, accent pieces and other items to make a space look more inviting. The agent then uses the enhanced images for Web display, ultimately presenting a space that’s aesthetically inviting and unified.
According to the National Association of Realtors, more than 90 percent of people use the Internet to search for a home, and 97 percent believe that photographs are the most useful tool in a real estate search. Unfortunately, many photos do little to increase buyers’ interest in a home. For instance, if a room is photographed when it’s empty, the lack of scale can make it appear very small. However, with virtual staging, an image can illustrate a room’s actual size with the aid of rendered furnishings. Pictures of empty rooms generally are not as engaging as those of furnished rooms. A well-staged room will provide the visual interest necessary to encourage further viewing.
Although physical staging provides the same effect, the associated time, expense and labor make it much less efficient than the digital alternative. Physical staging also creates the potential for damage to floors and walls while moving furniture in and out of a space.
One clear disadvantage to virtual staging is the physical showing. Although potential buyers might be excited by digitally-staged images, they will likely be disappointed when the on-site version is empty and bare. For that reason, listings with digitally-altered images should explicitly note that fact for buyers in order to reduce disappointment and confusion. There are also questions about ethical standards. Computerized renderings are capable of making countless alterations that may not accurately depict a property’s real features. There’s always the possibility that a real estate agent could take advantage of the technology to misrepresent a property and ultimately mislead potential buyers. If you have questions about whether an image has been digitally staged, contact the listing agent. Buyers should always schedule a showing to see the home for themselves.